The NY Times–curiously–has chosen to publish an article about behavioral economics. Titled When Humans Need a Nudge Toward Rationality, the article describes the work of an economist and a law professor, developing a field of study they call libertarian paternalism.
The story begins by describing a behavior experiment in The Netherlands where images of flies were placed inside urinals. Turns out that spillage was reduced cause guys like to aim at the flies.
So these guys want to promote their libertarian paternalism as a way to get people to behave better–“save more, eat better, weigh less, invest more sensibly, pay down debt, avoid hazardous mortgages, drive safely and wear bike helmets.”
They claim that libertarian paternalism is not the oxymoron it apppears to be, as people remain free to choose what they do. Their paternalism is only a nudge in the direction that is best for society.
The sour taste in my mouth comes from the idea that someone else decides what is best for me. It tastes a little sweeter when I remember that I can still choose to resist the nudge and do what I like.
If you find this interesting, there is a blog you can visit, here–nudges.wordpress.com